Oh, to have a backyard. [Sighs wistfully]

While most of us city folk don't have the luxury of lush green space, we do have roofs, and sometimes that—and a grill and loads of wine and friends who don't suffer from vertigo—is all you need for great outdoor entertaining.

Aside from the obvious cool factor of eating under the stars, the best thing about rooftop dining is that you don't really have to do much. No need to fuss over decorations: Just throw some wildflowers and mismatched plates on your table (if you've got one) and you're done. Let it be gritty. The city is your soundtrack.

Rooftop parties do present a few challenges: It should be all about drinking in the fresh air and booze, not losing your breath running up and down the stairs. So you'll want to prep well before your guests make their ascent.

The day before, mix together a bulgur salad (see the recipe) with cherry tomatoes, yellow squash and loads of fresh herbs. Just before dinner, dress it in shallot-raisin vinaigrette. Blister eggplants on the grill (see the recipe) and blend them with onion, garlic and yogurt to make a smoky dip that you'll later top with chopped walnuts, fresh mint and crunchy fried garlic and onions, which you can make earlier in the day.

Brine a pork tenderloin in garlic and brown sugar (see the recipe) and chop everything up for a nice sweet-sour peperonata relish. That morning, use your trusty cast-iron pan to cook an effortless, beautiful plum cake (see the recipe) right on the grill.

Fast-forward to party time. Just before, all you'll have to do is pile creamy burrata drizzled with a lemony shallot vinaigrette and salty anchovy oil onto thick slices of charred toast (see the recipe) and throw that loin on the grill as your guests start to arrive.

Oh, and you'll need to fill everyone's glasses with Lillet and ice—which shouldn't take too much effort. When it's time for something sweet, simply heat up the cake and let the gorgeous jewel-colored plums and golden crust speak for itself.

As the sun starts to set, you can clink glasses as horns honk down below. You won't miss the grass one bit.